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10-10-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 3/2020 Open Access

Journal of Child and Family Studies 3/2020

Risk Factors for Parental Burnout among Finnish Parents: The Role of Socially Prescribed Perfectionism

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 3/2020
Matilda Sorkkila, Kaisa Aunola
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Although parental burnout can have detrimental consequences to families, the investigation of the syndrome is still in its infancy. The present study investigated what are the key family background variables that contribute to parental burnout among Finnish parents. Moreover, we investigated how self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism uniquely and interactively relate to parental burnout over and above the impacts of background variables.


Questionnaire-based data was collected from 1725 parents (91% mothers) and analyzed using structural equation modeling (SEM).


The results showed that when several family- and child-related background variables were taken into account, parent’s age, unemployment, perceived poor financial situation of the family, and having a child with special needs, showed unique associations with burning out as a parent. Even more crucial risk factor for burning out was, however, socially prescribed perfectionism: the higher the level of socially prescribed perfectionism the parents reported, the higher the level of their parental burnout. The relationship between socially prescribed perfectionism and parental burnout was further strengthened when parents reported also a high level of self-oriented perfectionism. Finally, the relationship between gender and parental burnout was mediated via perfectionism: mothers reported more socially prescribed and self-oriented perfectionism than fathers and, consequently, were also more burned out as parents.


The results suggest that in Finland specific attention should be given to families with poor financial resources and unemployment. Moreover, high social expectations experienced by the mothers could be balanced, for example, by teaching them skills of self-acceptance and compassion.

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